Kindle, A New Way To Read

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Quote of the Day for the Writer

“Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”

- Cyril Connolly

The Bumpy Road of Writers – Karin Tabke

Yes, that is really Karin Tabke, the author. lol! Very sexy.

Click Here To Go To Karin's Site

Karin's Story

It’s not a razzle-dazzle story. It isn’t a turn of luck, or a hardship case. It wasn’t one of those epiphany type moments when I knew what I had to do. Nope, mine was pretty text book.

I can sum it up in one word: perseverance.

I’m a goal orientated person. I set a goal and work hard until I achieve it. No secret formula.

Always a reader and a sometime dabbler in writing, I made the decision I wanted to be New York published almost 7 years ago.

As a business woman first and foremost I drew up a plan. A map if you will on how I was getting to New York. I had a lot of work to do.

I spent several years honing my craft, hanging with like-minded people and constantly querying agents. I went to conferences when I didn’t know anyone, and made contacts.

My writing improved, I stopped getting form rejections and I met editors. I forged onward, and sold. It wasn’t until after my first sale I signed with my dream agent. And the rest they say is history.

My advice is and has always been, never, never, ever give up. Not if you want it. If you quit then you have no one to blame but yourself

Click Here To Go To More Stories on the Bumpy Road of Writers at


Sorry I couldn't find a good image of the pretty Jane. : (

Jane F. Kotapish, from New York. Her debut book is Salvage (MacAdam Cage)

Salvage is a novel about a woman seeking refudge from her paralyzing memories, and the eccentric mother who keeps her on the edge.”

Writing Habaits: “I have two children, so I’m relegated to writing during the preschool hours a couple of days a week.”

How Did you Get your Break? “I was fortunate to have the first pages of Salvage read by an editor I met through a close friend. This editor then referred me to a stellar New York agent.”

Time Frame: “I wrote the first lines July 2003 and finished copyediting in November 2007.”

Secret to Success: “Finding a quiet space far away from my tea kettle and magazine piles.”

Advice: “Just slog through, even on the worst of days, and don’t judge anything you write until a week later.”

Influences: “I danced before I wrote. Everything my mentor, Majorie Mussman, teaches about movement---creating focus, taking chances, making an unequivocal statement—is beautifully applicable to the craft of writing.”

Weird Hobbies: “Eating Czech pastries and watching the first season of ‘Arrested Development’ ad nauseum.”

What’s Next? “A young adult fairy tale, a war novel and a mixed-media-choreographic extravaganza, not necessarily in that order.”
From Writer's Digest June 2008


Lisa Daily writes from Sarasota, Florida. Debut Book Fifteen Minutes of Shame (Plume)

Fifteen Minutes of Shame is a novel about what happens when America’s favorite TV relationship expert, Darby Vaughn, finds out her husband is cheating---live on national TV.”

Writing Habits: “On Tuesdays and Thursday I take my laptop to the beach and work from there.”

How Did You Get Your Break? “I had lunch with Dutton Editor-in-Chief Trena Keating at BookExpo America to discuss a nonfiction dating advice book, and on whim mentioned my idea for the novel. She told me, ‘Forget the dating book. You’ve got to write that novel.’

Time Frame: “I sold thebook on 9 chapters and a proposal. All in all, it was on year of writing—22 months from start to publication.”

Secret To Success: “I won’t let myself imagine any other outcome.”

Advice: “Get the best writing job you can swing, one where you’re surrounded by writers who are far better than you are.”

Influences: “My friend, the funny and brilliant Lisa Earle McLeod; also Jane Austen, Delia Ephron, Nora Ephron, Michael Alvear, Jennifer Weiner, Sophie Kinsella and Oscar Wilde.”

Weird Hobbies: “Like my protagonist, I’m a TV dating expert, and to my knowledge, my real life husband isn’t planning to dump me on national TV.”

What’s Next?: “I sold the movie rights for Fifteen Minutes of Shame. My nonfiction dating advice book is coming out January 2009, and I’m, working on my second novel.”

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Much Ado About Books

Much Ado About Books is being held 25 and 26th at the Prime Osborn in Jacksonville. The festival is now 13 years old. Authors, R.L. Stine and Steve Berry will be present.

Nora Ephron films at The Strand

Publisher's Weekly

Nora Ephron was at the Strand Book Store on Thursday, shooting scenes for new movie, Julie & Julia, an adaptation of Julie Powell’s book of the same name. For the scene, which has start Amy Adams browsing thru the Strand’s dollar carts w/ co-star Mary Lynn Rajskub, Strand owner, Nancy Bass Wyden, played an extra. Pictured here (left to right) are: Strand owner, Fred Bass, Delia Ephron, Nora Ephron, and Bass Wyden.

Nora wrote When Harry Met Sally and Silkwood. Delia is her sister. She comes from a family of screenwriters, Mom, Dad, and both of her sisters.

Friday, April 25, 2008

I may be late, but I'm right on time!


Well I’ve been a little POW MIA lately. Prisoner of Writing Missing In Action. I do other stuff besides my 9-5 and these blogs so that’s where I have been spending my time. I mean alot of times if you want to be successful you will notice a person has alot of irons in the fire. Think about it. Watch how a person uses their time. Here's a quote: "The successful always has a number of projects planned, to which she looks forward. Anyone of them could change the course of her life overnight." The blogs have been a great motivational piece for me that help in other areas of my life that’s why I do it. Hopefully soon the blogs will turn into my official website and I will be posting a link on both blogs redirecting you to my official site.

I also want to tell you that I will be updating both blogs over the weekend so there will be something new to be excited about.



Here's another about using ur time wisely. This quote I kept on my old 360 blog: ""Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life." --- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, April 11, 2008

DailyLit Serializes Grove/Atlantic Novel Pre-Pub

I didn't know this thing even existed.

By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 4/10/2008 1:41:00 PM

DailyLit, the online service that delivers books via e-mail or RSS in short, daily installments, announced a deal yesterday with Grove/Atlantic to serialize House Rules, a new thriller by author Mike Lawson, prior to the book’s June 10 publication.

DailyLit has signed deals with more than 20 book publishers, including Chronicle, Oxford UP and Harlequin. But this is the first time it is releasing a book pre-pub. House Rules is now available via in 139 installments for $9.95.

Grove/Atlantic sub rights director Amy Hundley said the house was "thrilled to have this opportunity to... experiment with fun and innovative ways for readers to find and experience our wonderful authors." Susan Danziger, president and publisher of DailyLit said her company is doing extensive publicity to get the word out about the serialization, and that it hopes the serialization will drive interest and buzz for House Rules—and other publishers' books in the future.

Koontz and Connelly Added to BEA Sunday Programming

by Kevin Howell -- Publishers Weekly, 4/9/2008 7:54:00 AM

In an effort to beef up Sunday activities at this year’s BookExpo America—and thwart the plans of those hoping to avoid a Red Eye plane trip out of Los Angeles on BEA’s final day—convention officials announced today that Dean Koontz (above left) and Michael Connelly (above right) will participate in a newly added program called “Meet the Bestsellers,” which will take place on Sunday, June 1, from noon until 2 p.m. The event will offer a free boxed lunch to all attendees.

Koontz and Connelly will be interviewed by USA Today’s book critic Carol Memmott, followed by a short Q&A with the audience and an autographing session.

New York Passes Net Tax Provision

by Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 4/10/2008 8:07:00 AM

As part of its new budget, the New York State legislature yesterday approved the Internet Sales Tax provision, a move that will force out-of-state online e-tailers to collect sales tax on purchases made by New York residents. The measure has been long backed by the American Booksellers Association who organized an extensive lobbying campaign in support of passage of the provision. The ABA contends that implementation of the measure will level the playing field between traditional stores and e-tailers in forcing them to charge sales tax the same way bricks-and-mortar stores do. “From the beginning, all we have asked for is an even playing field so that all retailers get the same treatment from New York,” said ABA COO Oren Teicher. “This has never been a case of enacting a new tax; rather we have simply called for the equitable enforcement of existing tax law.”

Amazon, which currently collects tax in only four states, has vigorously opposed collecting taxes in states where it doesn’t have a presence. A spokesperson for Amazon said the company was still reviewing the language of the statute and had no further comment. It is expected that Amazon will mount a legal challenge to the tax. New York estimates it will earn $50 million from the Internet tax.

The ABA is hopeful that now that New York has passed a Internet tax provision other states will follow. The Northern California Independent Booksellers Association has been advocating for that state to collect Internet sales tax for about nine years. “The NCIBA is thrilled with the New York decision and offers thanks and gratitude to ABA and New York independents for their proactive efforts,” said NCIBA executive director Hut Landon. “We hope that we can use this victory to our advantage with the powers-that-be in California.”

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Marilu Henner Teaches How To Wear Your Life Well

The Today Show hosted actress and bestseller Marilu Henner, whose Wear Your Life Well: Use What You Have to Get What You Want (Collins, $24.95) came out April 8, 2008.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Kindle Helps Tiny E-book Market

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National WriterThu Apr 3, 3:13 PM ET

More than four months after released the Kindle, no one is sure whether the latest e-book reader is really hot — or not. But publishers believe that the Kindle has helped, if not revolutionized, the tiny electronic market. has received extensive media coverage since unveiling the Kindle on the Monday before Thanksgiving and announcing that the first run had sold out within a few hours. has declined to give sales figures for the Kindle — at least 2,000, judging from the number of customer reviews — but has said repeatedly that supply is not keeping up with demand, with the device often out of stock.

Publishing officials are reluctant to discuss sales figures, but say that they have seen double digit increases in e-book sales since the Kindle's release, including renewed interest in downloads on the Sony Reader. Sales for the most popular books are in the hundreds, comparable to the number for the Sony, which came out in 2006.

"The Kindle has increased awareness. Publishers have told me that in some cases the Sony numbers were double or triple to what they had been," says Michael Smith, head of the International Digital Publishing Forum, which tracks e-book sales.

Selling through for $399, Kindle is thinner than most paperbacks and weighs 10.3 ounces. It can hold some 200 books, along with newspapers, magazines and an entire dictionary.

The Kindle has been praised for its selection, more than 100,000 books, blogs and newspapers, and for the speed of delivery, less than a minute. Fans include such authors as Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, Michael Lewis and Neil Gaiman.

In a review last November, AP technology writer Peter Svensson called the Kindle in "some ways an amazing device," citing its full-alphabet keyboard and "rudimentary Web browser that allows you to surf for free." But he also noted several flaws, including "its poor battery life, making it hard to see it as a game-changer."

Publishing is older by centuries than the music and film industries and its form of communication, the paper text, has proved far more durable than the vinyl record, eight-track tape or videocassette. New technologies, from the compact disc to the DVD, are usually more convenient and more effective than the ones they replace. But no e-book device has approached the practical and aesthetic appeal of the traditional book.

"Books themselves are very efficient machines, and the experience of holding a book is part of the book culture," says Farrar, Straus & Giroux publisher Jonathan Galassi, who called the Kindle "flimsy" and said it reminded him of an Etch-a-Sketch toy.

"E-books are a growing niche for now," Smith says, "but I certainly don't see a time when everybody will be reading them. People just love what the traditional book represents to them."

E-books undeniably are growing. According to the International Digital Publishing Forum, sales have risen steadily over the past six years, from around $6 million in 2002 to around $33 million in 2007. Those numbers do not include many smaller publishers, or library and educational purchases, making it likely — Smith and others believe — that the market for downloads is at least two or three times larger.

Each advance inevitably leads to speculation about a post-paper world: Would bookstores become obsolete? How would publishers handle online piracy? Would authors, like some musicians, become their own bosses, bypassing the industry altogether?

E-books have been around for more than a decade and speculation peaked in 2000-2001, the height of the boom. Several publishing houses set up e-book divisions, and an annual e-book prize, a $50,000 award co-sponsored by Microsoft, was started. Even Barnes & Noble, Inc. formed its own e-book line, launching the brand with an original work by Dean Koontz.

The electronic future, bookseller Michael Powell of Powell's Books said in 2000, was "coming down the road at lightning speed."

Few are so bold anymore. Even after tripling their reported sales, e-books are less than 1 percent of the $35 billion publishing business and likely to remain so. The e-book divisions have been shut down, the e-book award no longer exists. Barnes & Noble has abandoned the e-book field.

"The market is very narrowly confined, to New York and Seattle and to a few people who travel and read a lot," says Frank Daniels III, chief operating officer for Ingram Digital, a leading e-distributor.

"The Kindle is certainly an important next step, but I don't think it signifies the end of the evolution," Smith says. "It's all incremental, one step that takes place down the line, like in the audiobook industry."

E-books have made their greatest progress with their first audience: publishers. For years, publishers resisted the product they were supposed to be pushing. In a 2001 interview, the head of the Association of American Publishers, Patricia Schroeder, rolled her eyes when asked about e-book devices: "I just look at these things and they're fine, but I just think ... "

In a recent AP interview, Schroeder spoke favorably of e-books, but said she still had not read one.

Public sightings of e-books remain rare compared to iPods or iPhones, but e-book readers have caught on in the industry. The Hachette Book Group USA, Simon & Schuster and Random House, Inc. are among those using Sony Readers (which sell for $299) to review manuscripts and executives are far more likely to say they've read an e-book.

"It's not a conversation I'm having with people outside the industry, but I think people will increasingly use e-books. They'll be a niche, like audiobooks. I think that's the best comparison," says Jonathan Karp, publisher of the Hachette imprint, Twelve.

"I actually read in bed with the Sony e-reader, and I love it. It's lighter than a regular book, and easier to turn the pages than with a manuscript. I don't have to lug books back and forth. I'm saving paper. It's wonderful."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Method Man Pens Self Titled Graphic Novel

Wu-Tang's Method Man will be releasing a self titled graphic novel this year via Grand Central Publishing.

According to Entertainment Weekly, the book is centered on a character named Mosley Paine who leads a fight against an evil giant Leviathan that lives in the city's sewers.

Meth's co-authors on the book are renowned comic writers Sanford Green and David Atchison.

Method Man will hit shelves on July 23. The rapper's Wu brethren, Ghostface and GZA, will also be releasing their own graphic novels via Grand Central in the future.

source: D E F S O U N D S

Authors Guild Looking at Antitrust Issue of Amazon’s POD Plan

By Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 4/6/2008 10:03:00 AM

Saying it is reviewing the antitrust and other legal implications of Amazon’s “bold move,” the Authors Guild sent an e-mail late Friday to its membership questioning the motives—and implications—of the e-tailer’s new position on print-on-demand that makes publishers use its BookSurge division if they want the sell their titles on Amazon in the traditional manner. While Amazon is pitching the move as a consumer-friendly change that will improve the speed of shipping books and other products, the Guild says it suspects the motivation has more to do with profit margin than customer service.

If Amazon is successful in wresting a large chunk of pod business away from current leader Lightning Source (which the Guild says does a good job), they will have taken a huge step in controlling publishing’s supply change and thus control much of the industry’s long tail business, the Guild said. “Once Amazon owns the supply chain, it has effective control of much of the "long tail" of publishing,” the statement reads. “Since Amazon has a firm grip on the retailing of these books (it's uneconomic for physical book stores to stock many of these titles), owning the supply chain would allow it to easily increase its profit margins on these books: it need only insist on buying at a deeper discount -- or it can choose to charge more for its printing of the books -- to increase its profits. Most publishers could do little but grumble and comply.”

If Amazon does impose deeper discounts, the big losers, other than Lightning, will be authors, since many are paid for on-demand sales based on the publisher’s gross revenues, as well as publishers, the Guild says.

The statement closes by inviting anyone who has information that could help the Guild investigate the matter to contact it by phone at 212-563-5904 or through its site,

Saturday, April 5, 2008

The Bumpy Road of Writers -- Michele Bardsley

Click for Michele Bardsley's Website

I wrote my first book in college computer labs and at work after hours. It took me two years to finish it. I started sending it out to agents and editors, but the form-letter rejections poured in. The next book I wrote only took two months. It won first place in four romance-novel contests, but it, too, gathered more rejections. Then I won the Silhouette Yours Truly Hook, Line, and Sinker Contest with a one-page synopsis, only to have my finished novel rejected by the editor. Five years after I started writing and trying to sell, Hard Shell Word Factory published my second novel. It took another six years, and winning the Writer's Digest annual writing competition, to get a literary agent and to sell to New American Library.

The Bumpy Road of Writers -- Maya Banks

Click for Maya Banks Website

My best friend in the world, who is also a writer, once told me that the secret to selling was to hit rock bottom first. I didn’t necessarily believe it at the time, though it had certainly been true for her and a few other writers I knew. I had somehow hoped that maybe my path would be a little less rocky. That wasn’t to be.

My writing journey began in earnest when Amy Knupp and I made a pact. We’d met in an online expecting group for mothers due in Jan/Feb 2000. In 2002, we got to talking about our mutual love for romance novels and gradually the conversation shifted to our love of writing. I’d written stories since I was a very young child, all for my own enjoyment. I’m still not sure what prompted me to lay down the challenge, but there it was. I told her we should go for it. Try to become published authors. I think she thought I was a little nuts, but I doubt she took much convincing of that fact.

We had no idea what publication entailed. We just knew we loved to read and write. We knew what we wanted to write, just not how to sell it. We joined the RWA, weeded through countless internet informationals about publication, joined critique groups, yahoo groups, basically we dove in head first.

My first love was historicals and so this was my focus. My first, horrid as it was, garnered few requests. But I learned a lot in writing that novel. My second netted significantly more requests and a lengthy conversation with an agent who loved the book but wanted me to revise it. When it came time to write that third novel, I really wanted to create something different. It paid off when I got an offer from two agents in April of 2004.

The agent I chose shopped the historical. We got a few rejections and then she emailed me to say an editor really loved it but wanted to talk about revisions. I contacted the editor and we brainstormed solutions. I rewrote the book and sent it back to my agent.

During this time, I began having doubts about my relationship with the agent. I knew in my gut that this wasn’t a good fit for me, but it was really hard to act on that knowledge. When I finally severed the relationship, I emailed the editor who had my manuscript only for her to tell me she was leaving the publisher. She passed my manuscript on to another editor, who, you guessed it, also left.

This was a very difficult time for me. I’d fired my agent, came close with an editor only to have that opportunity completely disappear. Suddenly I was faced with having to start over. Completely over. I was so burned out on historicals that I couldn’t face writing another. It had taken six, agonizingly long months just to finish the last one and every word was spilled painfully onto the page. I was so ready to give up and throw in the towel.

I took a little time off, nursed my wounds. It was during this time that Amy sold and I was ecstatically happy for her even amidst my gloom and doom. I knew I wanted to do something different and that I wasn’t ready to jump back in the agent search again. I wanted to have fun again. I knew it wasn’t going to happen for me with historical. Not right this moment, so if I had any hope of publishing, I was going to have to reinvent myself.

I loved ebooks and erotic romance and read the genre voraciously. I began writing contemporary erotic romance with the intent of submitting to an epublisher. Once I took the pressure off myself, I began to enjoy writing again. Still, I wasn’t doing much in the way of building a career and was writing when I wanted or not at all if I didn’t feel like it.

I got an idea for a novella, and I’d never even attempted one. All of my work leaned toward ludicrously long. So I wasn’t even sure I could pull it off. When I finished it, I had every intention of submitting it to my editor at the epublisher who had bought my first erotic romance. I sent it to Amy because I thought it was good, but my perception was so skewed by my own funk that I had little confidence in my opinions. She read it then told me that this was the one. She told me to send it to agents and if I didn’t she was going to hurt me.

At this point, I figured I had nothing to lose, but still, I wasn’t really ready to go back to an exhaustive agent search. So I made a list of six agents who I knew were selling in the genre and I queried them. I got four rejections, never heard from the fifth and the sixth wanted to see the full. I wasn’t confident of my chances.

I sent off the full, and during this short period of time, EVERYONE around me started selling. And I do mean everyone. It was surreal. This was when I hit rock bottom. Everyone around me was moving forward and I was stuck in the mud. I was so very happy for authors I considered dear friends, but it only heightened my despair. When would it be me? Would it EVER be me?

I began seriously researching job options. My plan was to stick out the summer when the kids were home but in the fall when they went back to school, I was going to hang up writing, at least full time, and get a job that at least offered a paycheck.

If that wasn’t enough, I had a string of really horrible luck, health wise. I got a kidney stone. Had a procedure to remove it and then was hospitalized with complications. Found out during the course of the treatment for the kidney stone that I needed my gall bladder removed. I literally spent the entire summer in the hospital.

In between medical procedures, I went on vacation with the family. I brought my laptop but didn’t have internet. I had to drive to an art gallery that had wireless and sit out in the parking lot to check my email. The Tuesday after Memorial Day, I got an email from the agent who’d requested my manuscript asking if we could set up a time on the following Friday to talk on the phone. Still, I wasn’t expecting much.

Fast forward to Friday, she called, loved the story and wanted to represent me. I had a very frank conversation with her about what had not worked with my first agent. She allayed a lot of my fears, and we rang off with the agreement to work together. She said she’d see what interest she could drum up. I was a bit in shock and resigned myself to another long wait that may or may not result in a sale.

Two hours later, I went back up to the art gallery to send a few emails and I had an email from my new agent saying that Cindy Hwang was taking my manuscript home with her over the weekend and we might have an answer on Monday. MONDAY. Good grief. I was still in denial over signing with another agent. I couldn’t even wrap my brain around what this might mean.

Monday afternoon, my agent called with an offer from Berkley. Two book deal. I was stunned. In the space of two days, I’d gone from having no agent, no options, to a two book deal. And all I could think of was how right Amy had been, that the sale had come at my lowest point. In two days, things had completely and utterly turned around for me.


Lisa McMann, Mesa Arizona, Debut Book: Wake (Simon Pulse)

Wake is a paranormal novel for teens. Janie, 17, gets sucked into other people’s dreams, including the sometimes frightening, revealing dreams of a secretive boy.”

Writing Habits
: “I write when my kids are at school. If I’m in the middle of something good, I’ll keep going as long as I can. Sometimes I wake up at 3a.m. with an idea, so I write then, too.

How Did You Get Your Break?: “I did tons of research on literary agents and sent out a flurry of queries. Apparently, one landed on the right desk. Three months later my agent had competing offers for Wake and its sequel.”

Time Frame:Wake couldn’t have gone any faster. From the first word typed to publication day was 20 months.”

Secret To Success: “Consistency. And dreaming about what happens next.”

Advice: “Toughen up. Don’t be needy. Listen to feedback. Focus.”

Influences: “Madeline L’Engle was a big influence on me. I was lucky enough to have dinner with her in my early 20s and she was very encouraging.”

Weird Hobbies: “I collect unusual hats my kids won’t let me wear in public. I also grow avocado trees under my kitchen sink.

What’s Next?:
Wake’s sequel, Fade.”

From Writer's Digest April '08

Old Interview of Nora Roberts from 1998

The year is 1979. A blizzard is raging outside. Kindergarten has been canceled, the house is bereft of chocolate and two bored boys are driving their young mother nearly to distraction. After days of board games, she gets an idea -- she picks up her pencil and some paper and begins jotting down ideas for a story. She likes to read Harlequin romances and thinks she has an idea that might work. So she scribbles the story on various sheets of paper - whatever is
handy - as she chases the boys around during the enforced time indoors. After several years of writing and several rejection letters, she sold her first manuscript to Silhouette. Now, almost 20 years later, Nora Roberts is one of the world's most successful authors, both critically and financially. She has over 42 million copies of her books in print and by the end of 1998 will have published 126 books. Six of her titles were New York Times bestsellers in 1997 alone. All the major critics have raved over her books as do her legions of loyal fans who line up to buy her latest novel.The winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Romance Writers of America, she is one of romance's most prolific authors. But what sets her apart is the originality and versatility of her writing. She writes mainstream romantic suspense e.g., Homeport (Putnam, 1998) and Sanctuary (Jove, 1998), category romance e.g., The MacGregor Brides (Silhouette, 1997), and futuristic mystery novels under the pseudonym J.D. Robb, e.g., Holiday in Death (Berkley, 1998). Her talent for creating vivid settings is unmatched as is her ability to draw the reader almost immediately into the lives of her characters.

The youngest of five children, she was born in Silver Spring, Maryland. She now lives in Keedysville, Maryland with her husband. When she is not drafting or revising her latest novel at her computer in her home office, she can be found sipping an espresso at the family bookstore, traveling to promote her books, spending time with her family, gardening or catching the latest episode of the X-Files. She is a sought-after speaker at writers' conferences where she has inspired countless fledgling writers with her message: make time for your writing -- don't make excuses, if you ever want to be a successful author. When asked how she deals with writer's block, she truly seems to find the concept baffling -- she has more ideas for stories in her head than she could ever write in one lifetime.

Nora spoke to us about her latest bestsellers: Homeport and Holiday in Death, how she gets her ideas and how she survived the worst episode of her professional life: last summer's scandal when romance superstar Janet Daily admitted that she deliberately plagiarized Roberts' work.

What led up to the publication of your first novel in 1981, Irish Thoroughbred? What made you write your first book?

The Blizzard of '79, two small children, no morning kindergarten, endless games of Candyland and short supply of chocolate. All of these things and events led up to me writing my first book. I live in the country and was snowed in with my then three and six year old sons. Going crazy. I'd always loved to read -- and come from a family of readers -- but I never thought about writing as a career. I thought everyone made up stories in their heads. During the blizzard, as the radio announced day after day there would be no morning kindergarten, and my horde of Oreos was depleting, I was desperate. To entertain myself I decided to take one of the stories out of my head and write it down.

The minute I started, I was hooked. I loved the process of writing. I decided to write category romance as I'd recently discovered them, and enjoyed them. At that time, there were only Harlequins, and they were primarily written by British authors in the British style. For over a year I continued to submit mss, and have them rejected -- the last few with rejection letters indicated the story was pretty good, but I was American. (laugh) Then in 1980, Silhouette opened up looking for new, American writers to put an American spin on the Harlequin framework. It was, for me, wonderful timing. In the summer of '80, Silhouette bought my first book.

Take us through a typical day in the life of Nora Roberts.

Typical? I long for typical days, but rarely get them any more. However, the best of the best is when I can get up -- between 7:30 and 8:00, work out for 30-50 minutes, then go straight to work. Usually now, I'd run through my e-mail first, then dive in. On a shining day, the phone wouldn't ring until afternoon. I don't get many shining days. (laugh) I'll usually work until about four or five -- take a short break mid day to run through the email that's come in or read and post on the boards. Then I'll think about starting dinner, deal with that. Play on the boards or do more mail. If a book's moving well, or I was interrupted over six million times through the day, I'll usually go back and write for another hour or two. Otherwise, I zone out with TV or read for a bit in the evening.

How do you approach writing scenes of passion?

Exactly the same way I approach writing any other scene. Action, reaction, motivation, emotion, all have to come from the characters. Writing a love scene requires the same elements from the writer as any other.

Does your husband read your love scenes?

If you mean does he preview them, absolutely not! (laugh) He doesn't read any of my work before it comes out. Then he reads the whole book.

How much do you use the Internet?

I find I use the Internet more and more. It's just an invaluable tool. I do most of my research on the Net now -- and certainly do the bulk of my communicating through email. I'm able to keep in touch with friends I rarely see. It's wonderful. And for research it allows me to find out just about anything I need to know without leaving my office. I don't know how I managed without it. As much as I value my microwave, if it came down to a choice between that and the Internet -- the mike would go.

Do you believe it is important for authors to be online?

I think it depends on the author and what they want to do, what they enjoy. I really enjoy being on line. I would certainly say that any author should try it. For the research without question. For communicating with readers, I find it simply marvelous. And it gives me a lot of laughs. I've gotten to know a number of readers from being online, and really treasure the time I've spent with them.

How much interaction do you have with your fans? Quite a bit. Through the Net on just about a daily basis. Then as I've met readers through the Net, I've been able to meet many IRL. A lot of readers have come to our store for signings or just to visit. When I travel on book tours and business, I've been able to meet several others. I post on the boards often, and try to answer all reader e-mail within a week or two at the most. For me, it's enormously satisfying to know there are people out there who enjoy my work enough to want to tell me so. I appreciate that tremendously.

Do you have time to read other authors? Whose work do you like to read?

I don't think you can write -- at least not well -- if you don't love stories, love the written word. One of my greatest pleasures is falling into a story someone else has written. I read a lot -- and I read a variety of genres. I really enjoy my pal Patricia Gaffney's work, and was delighted to be able to do an anthology with three other pals, Ruth Ryan Langan, Marianne Willman and Jill Gregory, whose work I enjoy. I also love John Sandford's Prey series, Sue Grafton, Linda Barnes. I think Elizabeth Berg is incredible. Mary Stewart will always be my goddess. I can pick up one of her early books -- one I've read a dozen times -- and still slide right into the story.

You started your career writing category romances, which have strict parameters about the subject matter, how passionate the romance can be etc. Have you ever felt the parameters of a certain subgenre to be too confining for you? Do you ever find it difficult to write within those strict guidelines and yet stay true to your creative vision?

I've never felt category is restrictive. If you write in category, you write knowing there's a framework, there are reader expectations. If this doesn't suit you, you shouldn't write it. I don't believe for one moment you can write well what you wouldn't read for pleasure. For myself, I've always felt that if you remember those expectations, if you focus on the ongoing relationship between the hero and heroine, category can be amazingly flexible. You can add mystery, paranormal, science fiction, meladrama, comedy. Category has offered me a wonderful canvas on which to paint -- they might be quick, charcoal sketches rather than the more detailed or sweeping oils I do outside of category. But art is still art.

For aspiring romance writers, how important is it to take writing classes or read writing books?

I think this is completely a personal and individual decision. I believe strongly in writing groups such as Romance Writers Of America that offer support, information and networking. I think writing classes can certainly help a new writer with the nuts and bolts if they're rusty. I know some writers who've found certain books on writing to be helpful. Now, I'll say this. I've never taking a course on writing. I've never read a book on writing. This isn't something that would work for me. Every writer has to figure out what works best -- and often has to select and discard different tools before they find the one that fits.

What is the greatest change in romance publishing that you have seen since you began writing?

I suppose the opening up of the market -- the fluidity of it. The fact that, as I mentioned earlier, romance will absorb and incorporate so many elements from so many other genres and still remain true to its form. Also, certainly, the more balanced presentation of the hero. By giving him a point of view, by knocking him off the richest man in the free world pedestal and putting, most often, him and the heroine on equal ground. At the same time, the heroine has become stronger and more independent. I think you can credit Americanization with this. When American writers embraced the category form and began to make it theirs, our women became sharper, stronger and more accessible to the reader.

Last summer, you had to endure a nasty episode where another author plagiarized your work. Have you managed to put that episode behind you? Has it affected your outlook permanently in any way?

The suit I filed against Janet Dailey has been settled. The four books, Notorious, Aspen Gold,Tangled Vines and Scrooge Wore Spurs were named in the suit as well as the more than a dozen of mine which were copied from. Part of the settlement includes having a team compare several more books to ascertain the extent of copying. Once that's done I can put the entire matter behind me. At this point, I'm very relieved to have the suit settled. I hope it hasn't affected my outlook negatively. I wouldn't want to have to go through this again, which is only one of the many reasons I filed the suit. I feel strongly that plagiarism is the line no writer can cross, and if it is crossed, must be dealt with firmly. I had to stand for my work.

You do a lot of traveling with book tours, speaking engagements etc. How do you find the time to write -- do you write on the road?

You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. What I do. I do indeed write on the road. My laptop goes with me everywhere.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your career as an author? Every single book is a challenge.

No matter how many you've written, you've never written this one before. And each book has to receive your best effort every single time. No slacking. But that's the job. I'm lucky to love my job. Certainly the plagiarism, and dealing with the fallout of it, was the most difficult thing I've ever faced since I started writing.

Edited to fit blog, the full interview is at Writer'

Friday, April 4, 2008

Quote of the Day for the Writer

“There's no winning without beginning.”

- Bernie Wilt

Miller Leaving Hyperion for HC; Archer to Lead Hyperion

By Rachel Deahl & Jim Milliot -- Publishers Weekly, 4/3/2008 10:06:00 AM

Bob Miller, longtime president of Hyperion, is leaving the company for a new post at HarperCollins. At HC, Miller will be heading up a "publishing studio" that will do 25 titles a year. Target date for the first books is spring 2009. Miller will report directly to Jane Friedman and start at Harper on April 14, appearing in his new role just in time for the start of the London Book Fair.

At Hyperion, Ellen Archer has been tapped to succeed Miller. Archer joined Hyperion in 1999 and in 2005 was named to her most recent post as senior v-p and publisher. Speaking to when and if Archer would find a replacement to fill her old position, a spokesperson at Hyperion said the newly minted company president is "in the process of deciphering her next steps," and that it's too early to comment on any potential new hires.

Miller, who founded Hyperion in 1991 at Disney, said he had become too comfortable in his current role and was looking for something that would challenge him the way starting Hyperion did 17 years ago. The new division will produce titles in various formats, including digital ones, which will most likely be priced under $20. Miller said an early focus will be short hardcovers with which he has had great success at Hyperion (Mitch Albom, Steve Martin), while also experimenting with tying different digital elements to print editions.The studio will also look to move away from traditional advance/royalty deals with authors in favor of profit sharing agreements. Miller said that while established authors were unlikely to be tempted by such a deal for their traditional titles, an author looking to experiment in a different format may have an interest. Newer authors who are looking to break out of the pack are likely to be a prime target for his new approach, Miller added. He is also eager to try new things in distribution "to cut down on all the waste of returns." Selling nonreturnable and selling directly to consumer are two avenues Miller will explore.

He said that while Disney may have supported some new initiatives, Miller believed he needed to "start from scratch" to build a different publishing program, and after a series of informal talks with Friedman agreed to move to HC. For her part, Friedman said "when I think of innovation I think of Bob. I can't think of anyone better to build a new publishing model for today."

U.S. denies entry to British sex, drugs memoir writer

Thu Mar 20, 1:35 PM ET

U.S. immigration officials denied British author Sebastian Horsley entrance to the United States on Wednesday on the grounds of "moral turpitude," Horsley told Reuters on Thursday.

Tired from his return trip to London and eight hours of detention with U.S. customs officials, the 45-year-old artist and author of the lurid autobiography of drug addiction and sex "Dandy in the Underworld," admitted that his flamboyant dress and top hat may have caught the attention of U.S. officials.

"I was wearing my dandy uniform, but the customs officials were wearing uniforms too and I didn't object to them," he said.

Horsley was stopped by immigration officials at New York's Newark airport after flying in from London to promote his book, which the author calls a "moral book."

"They said I was suffering from moral turpitude," Horsley said. "I was very surprised. I'm feeling quite well. I've never drunk turpentine in my life."

Horsley claims to have slept with more than 1,000 prostitutes, worked as a male escort, been in and out of rehab to treat drug addiction and staged a self-crucifixion in the Philippines in 2000.

"He is very honest about his life. That is who Sebastian is," said Seale Ballenger, spokesman for HarperCollins Publishers.

Ballenger said a party in New York that was meant to be the U.S. launch for the book, ended up being a rally for support to bring the author back to the United States.

Horsley said that after several hours of questioning in which customs officials asked him whether he used drugs, had solicited prostitutes or been convicted of any crimes, he was put on a plane back to London.

"God bless America, land of the free, but sadly not the home of the depraved," he said.

No one from the New York office of United States Customs and Border Protection was immediately available to comment.

The New York Times quoted a customs spokeswoman, Lucille Cirillo, as saying she could not comment on individual cases.

But in an e-mail to the newspaper she explained that under a waiver program that allows British citizens to enter the United States without a visa, "travelers who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude (which includes controlled-substance violations) or admit to previously having a drug addiction are not admissible."

Publisher Carrie Kania, from the HarperCollins' unit Harper Perennial that published the book in the United States, said she found it hard to understand why Horsley would be denied entrance into the United States for "his notoriety."

"It is unfortunate that his voice, in person, is being stifled," she said in a statement.

"Sebastian has written a cautionary tale of a life lived vividly ... an unapologetic, honest, funny and torturous book. Sebastian's memoir is about choice, some conventional, some unconventional."

Horsley's memoir was published last September in Britain with reviewers calling it both amusing and revolting.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith and Paul Casciato)

Writing mag's advice through the decades

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National WriterSat Mar 22, 3:39 PM ET

Emma Gary Wallace, professional author, had more than a few notions about the business of writing.

With a resume that included essays in housekeeping and cooking magazines, and a popular Christmas story, "The New Neighbor," she was able and ready to share tips with readers of a new monthly magazine called Successful Writing.

"Writers waste a great deal of postage sending stuff around the country to impossible markets," she observed. "Don't carry coals to Newcastle or offer jewelry in a blacksmith shop. Every magazine has its own policy and makes a definite appeal to a certain clientele. Study these and take them into consideration when offering your wares for any market."

The year was 1921, and advice about writing was — and remains — a market itself.

The timeless cry for help as one makes the great leap from the desire to write to actual writing to published writing has inspired countless books, magazines, classes and Web sites. Successful Writing, now Writer's Digest, is one of the oldest players in the business. Based in Cincinnati at the corporate headquarters of F&W Publications, it still enjoys a circulation of more than 100,000.

"I sincerely believe that we have something to offer a broad spectrum of writers at every stage of their development, from the novice to the veteran writer in every genre," says Writer's Digest editor Maria Schneider.

For anyone who wonders what the emerging writer has faced over the decades, the magazine's files — preserved in bulky, bound volumes — tell a dual history. Evolution is constant, as technologies from airplanes to computers, and historical events from the Great Depression to the sexual revolution, bring on new markets and genres. But at the heart of the game, the riddle remains: How does one write, and write well? How do you get your writing noticed and sold?

Like the best epics, reading through the pages of Writer's Digest is less about finding the answer than enjoying the questions.

"It's like asking if we're any closer to the great mystery of how one paints a portrait or composes a symphony?" says mystery writer Lawrence Block, who for years contributed a column to Writer's Digest. "Most of the arts certainly are extremely difficult, and there are always more people who want to do it than can do it."

Writer's Digest features interviews, market surveys and general advice. The April issue includes a cover story on vampire novelist Laurell K. Hamilton, updates on such "hot" genres as romance and horror and an essay by contributor Bonnie Trenga, who recommends that sentences run no longer than 40 words because "your readers don't have a very long attention span."

When the magazine debuted, "crook stories" were in, dialect was out and the great new draw was "motion pictures," or photoplays, a business barely as old as the century. The Goldwyn Co. ran an advertisement about its hunt for the "screen's own Shakespeare." An article reported that the "penurious playwright who used to peddle manuscripts" was "probably writing his plays for the motion pictures now, and living in ease."

Gertrude Stein, James Joyce and other modernists were already breaking up traditional narrative and grammar, but in the early 1920s, the marketplace belonged to the straight and the simple.

"A readable, lucid style, is far preferable to what is called a `literary style.' ... a complicated method of expression which confuses rather than clarifies thought," one columnist advised. A suggestion for nonfiction writers: "One of the surest ways to please editors is for the writer to prove himself accurate."

The market often danced to the tune of current events. In the '20s, the rise of commercial flights resulted in "airplane fiction," adventure stories set in the skies. The repeal of Prohibition, in 1933, led to new opportunities in beer industry journals.

During World War II, romance writers were urged to forget those Depression-era tales of financial peril and were reminded that if a young man wasn't in uniform, the writer had to explain why. At the end of 1945, after the Japanese had surrendered, correspondent Sgt. Donn Hale Munson reported that the "war market" was "shot" and that it was time to "take your hero out of uniform ... and put him back in civic clothes."

The times could change as surely as snow melts in spring. In January 1981, the cover story centered on authors and their typewriters, and revealed that Gay Talese used dental floss for repairs. By April, the magazine was running a long article on word processors. By the end of the year, one article speculated about an "easily accessible database network."

Cyberspace and electronic publishing seemed like science fiction for much of the 20th century, and it took a science fiction writer to catch the future. A 1971 essay by the editor of Galaxy magazine, Frederick Pohl, an award-winning science fiction writer, uncannily anticipated print-on-demand and electronic books as he imagined the market of 2001.

"Suppose you want to read a novel. You type out the name and byline on the keyboard of your teletype, and `order' a copy of the book. Immediately it starts printing out your personal copy, a page at a time," Pohl writes. "And if you don't care about (having an actual book), you can hang your TV tube over the foot of the bed, have the book displayed to you a page at a time and read it at your ease."

Scandals that seemed new in recent years were around long before. In the 1930s, articles were appearing on plagiarism, ghost writing ("as old as the proverbial hills") and journalistic fakery. In the 1950s, a new genre — teen fiction — was identified.

If publishing was ever a gentleman's game in tweed, the pages of Writer's Digest were not telling. Books over the decades were compared to breakfast food, chewing gum and oil-burning engines. A columnist in 1930 complained of the "abnormal emphasis being stressed on sex." As early as 1945, the industry was condemned for selling its soul to the gods of publicity.

"Nowadays it is not enough to publish a book; it must be sent skyward like a trial balloon, carrying its banners and famous names," complained Vardis Fisher, an Idaho-based author and newspaper columnist.

Romance and mystery were in demand all along, although trends and publications have come and gone.

In the early '20s, you could try Saucy Stories, which called for "fiction with very rapid action" and a few "clever epigrams" thrown in, or "The Youth's Companion," which "welcomes humor and pathos, but not pessimism." During the Depression, the MacMillan Co. was looking for "realistic, proletarian" novels, while by 1974, in the wake of Watergate, magazines from the National Tattler to The Woman were seeking investigative pieces.

The writer in 1949 looked out on an especially interesting market. Whisper magazine was seeking "sensational material, only with tabloid treatment." Jungle Stories was soliciting stories on "native tribal life or adventures of white men in the jungle."

Both sides of the Cold War were possible: Personal Liberty Magazine sought examples of "the enslaving spirit of Communism, Nazism and fascism." The Kapustkan Magazine wanted fiction "aimed at the evils of war, greed, hypocrisy, secrecy, poverty, injustice, intolerance, inequality and intimidation."

A caution: "Brevity desired."

The market was a code to crack and self-proclaimed experts came bearing solutions, such as J. Berg Esenwein, whose advice "plucks out the heart of magazine writing" and saves much "eye strain" for young writers. Readers of the '20s and 1930s likely heard much about William Wallace Cook's Plotto, "a new method of plot suggestion." Other options included Grace Porterfield Polk's "Polk-a-Dot Primer for Poets" and the Sherwin Cody School of English, presided over by Cody himself, a bearded man with a stern, professorial gaze.

No one was readier to counsel, and console, than Thomas H. Uzzell, identified as a former editor of Collier's and a market watcher whose ads and essays appeared for more than two decades.

In 1931, as the Depression dragged on, he reminded the idle businessman that the empty hours could be filled writing that long-promised book. "Necessity has launched more literary careers then you'd like to imagine," Uzzell observed.

A decade later, soon after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the U.S. entry into World War II, an Uzzell ad was headlined "WAR! NEW MARKETS! NEW DEMANDS! NEW PROBLEMS! Can you solve them?" Uzzell declared that in "such times only craftsmen, trained writers with editorial insight can survive. Escape and propaganda must be combined."

The famous, too, have prescribed. Somerset Maugham, in a 1942 essay, thought hospital doctors were ideal writers because they have seen human nature "bare" and frightened. Fifty years later, Stephen King urged against writing outlines, even as the magazine itself touted a system of plotting with index cards. Michael Crichton believed that you should get published first, then worry about an agent.

All agreed that the only way to become a writer was to write. The prolific John Updike recommended steady work habits, while Michael Chabon said nothing was possible without "talent," "luck" and "discipline." And in the early 1920s, a promising young short story writer offered a terse formula for success after a less fortunate peer sought help on how to develop a plot.

"Your letter was very vague as to what you wanted to know," the author scolded. "Study Kipling and O. Henry, and work like hell! I had 122 rejections slips before I sold a story."

The author, F. Scott Fitzgerald, was not easily discouraged.

Hugh Jackman teams with Virgin for new comic books

Tue Mar 25, 3:02 PM ET

Hugh Jackman, who plays the mutant Wolverine in the "X-Men" action movies, is pairing with Virgin Comics to create a comic book series called "Nowhere Man," Virgin said on Tuesday.

The series, a futuristic science-fiction odyssey set in an era when men have traded their privacy for safety and security, will be written by Jackman and Marc Guggenheim, who wrote Marvel comics' "Wolverine" series and "Amazing Spider-Man."

Australian actor Jackman said in a statement that the hope is "Nowhere Man" will be popular enough that it might later become a movie.

"X-Men" and other film series based on comic book characters such as "Spider-Man" and "Batman" have been among Hollywood's biggest hits for more than a decade.

Three films starting with "X-Men" in 2000 and including "X2: X-Men United" and "X-Men: The Last Stand" have sold more than $1.1 billion worth of tickets at worldwide box offices.

A fourth film, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," also featuring Jackman, is set to open in theaters next year.

(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Xavier Briand)

A full look at man who did the thesaurus

By HENRY C. JACKSON, Associated Press WriterTue Mar 25, 3:48 PM ET

"The Man Who Made Lists" (G.P. Putnam's Sons. 304 pages. $25.95), by Joshua Kendall: If the instinctive snobbery could be set aside for a moment, the denizens of the literary world would probably acknowledge Peter Mark Roget's lasting contribution to writing.

If they are being totally honest, they might even own up to consulting his magnum opus sometime during the last week, if not in the last hour. Or the last minute.

Roget's life's work — the English language's most comprehensive and acclaimed thesaurus — has, for more than a century served as an equal opportunity literary enabler. More than 40 million copies have been sold. The weary college dorm rat trying to make a term paper sparkle and the uppity Great American Novelist in training alike consult its pages, and if they say they don't? The suspicion here is that it's a bit of a taradiddle (a fib).

The order and simplicity of Roget's Thesaurus was a stark contrast — and, Joshua Kendall argues in his new book, a tonic — to the hurly-burly and chaotic life of the man who created it.

"The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness and the Creation of Roget's Thesaurus," Kendall's solid new biography, offers a theory for Roget that could apply to any number of more conventional literary greats: For him, words were therapy.

With great dexterity, Kendall tells the tale of a lonely and depressed youth who found precious solace in words — not so much their application as their compilation. Roget came from hard-scrabble roots. The product of a single-parent home, he was raised by a mother who was both burdensome and insane.

A remarkable if still off-kilter man emerged from the mess of his youth. He became known for his vocabulary, but that was hardly his only area of mastery. Roget is, "the eminent nineteenth-century polymath physician, physiology expert, mathematician, inventor, writer, editor and chess whiz," Kendall writes by way of introduction.

As a biography, Kendall's work is the most complete look at Roget to date, though by Kendall's own admission this is somewhat misleading. A combination of ostensible scorn and lack of curiosity has meant that no one endeavored to learn much about a man on whose eponymous work they presumably often consult.

True literati have, at least publicly, always had a skeptical relationship with Roget's obsession. It's an overly facile tool, they say, one often culled by mediocre wordsmiths. More heady writers believe consulting a thesaurus takes some of the inspiration out of writing.

For them, there's plenty of evidence in Kendall's work that Roget was not exactly a man who crackled with creative bursts.

"That's not how Roget's mind worked," he writes.

Judiciously, Kendall tries to ward off the pure prose posse from making Roget a villain. Kendall casts Roget's work as a sort of table-saw of verbiage useful, important but quite dangerous in the hands of ingenues.

"The fault lies not with Roget's but with the mind-set of some of its users," he writes. "Roget assumed the reader would play an active role in selecting the right word."

Kiriyama winners announced

Tue Apr 1, 4:01 AM ET
Associated Press

A novel about a young girl's affinity for Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" and an exploration of life in and near the water in the South Pacific are this year's winners of the 12th annual Kiriyama Prize.

The award is given for "literature that contributes to greater understanding of and among the peoples and nations of the Pacific Rim and South Asia."

New Zealand author Lloyd Jones was honored in fiction for "Mister Pip," in which a student on a war-torn South Pacific island escapes in her mind to Dickens' 19th century London. The nonfiction prize went to Julia Whitty's "The Fragile Edge," a report on people who live by the water in the South Pacific and a celebration of the water itself.

Jones and Whitty each will receive $30,000.

The Kiriyama is sponsored by the nonprofit Pacific Rim Voices. Previous winners include Michael Ondaatje and Rohinton Mistry.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Amazon Lets Readers Shop via Text Message

By Lynn Andriani -- Publishers Weekly, 4/2/2008 11:49:00 AM

Amazon has a new way to sell products: cell phone text messaging. The company’s new TextBuyIt service lets customers find and buy items from using their mobile phones.

Like ShopText, which began selling books via text message last summer, TextBuyIt asks customers to send a text message to the company with the name of the book (or other product), and responds quickly for confirmation. A customer must have already set up an account with the company. With TextBuyIt, merely having an Amazon account does not allow a customer to buy a product via text. The customer must first log in to his or her account on and activate the TextBuyIt option.

Here’s how it works: a person sends a text message to “AMAZON” (262966) with the title or ISBN of the book she wants to purchase. Amazon sends a response confirming the book and stating its price, telling the customer to reply with the text message “1” to purchase the book. Amazon then calls the customer with the final details and asks the customer to confirm or cancel the purchase. Once a customer has set up their Amazon account to accept TextBuyIt purchases, the process is relatively quick and easy. And for customers who aren’t near a computer when they want to purchase a book, but do have their cell phones handy, TextBuyIt offers a convenient way to shop.

Howard Gefen, director of Amazon Mobile Payments, said, “With today’s launch of TextBuyIt, any customer can now use any mobile device to shop and buy from, at anytime, anywhere they are.”

NewsCorp's Murdoch predicts loosening of China media grip

by Michael MathesWed Apr 2, 7:52 PM ET
Agence France Presse

Press baron Rupert Murdoch predicted Wednesday that despite Beijing's tight controls, the media market will open up in China "in ensuing regimes" and provide major opportunities for global investors.

The billionaire also stressed that there is "no magic bullet" to the ongoing troubles of traditional media, and that news outfits must diversify geographically and technically in order to stay afloat.

"Things change from time to time and I believe that things are going to change and open up in China, just by the force of things," Murdoch, speaking at Georgetown University's McDonough School of Business, said of the largest potential media market in the world.

"I think you will find in ensuing regimes ... it's going to gradually open up and be a lot freer," with "opportunities arising in China over the next 20 years for worldwide companies, whether they be European or American or whatever."

The Australia-born, US-based chief executive of News Corp has invested in China for years.

He snapped up Hong Kong's Star TV in 1993 and turned it into one of Asia's largest satellite services, although he has faced charges of kowtowing to Beijing for dropping BBC news from the service.

"I've had that hang around my neck forever," Murdoch said in his speech to hundreds of university students.

News Corp is also part owner in Hong Kong's Phoenix Satellite Television as well as a local Cantonese channel, and his company, which bought the social networking website in 2005, is now a key investor in MySpace China.

Murdoch admitted that his Chinese operation "walks a very fine line" in terms of politically sensitive coverage in the communist-run state.

"It covers elections in Taiwan when (state broadcaster) CCTV does not. But on the other hand it doesn't have too much about what's going on in the central committee," he said.

His China investments began back when Jiang Zemin was president and allowed "little cracks" in foreign investment restrictions in the country's tightly controlled media.

"When he retired, the door was shut on everything, and has been kept firmly shut," Murdoch said, adding that US Internet firms Google and Yahoo were forced to contend with strict rules of operations by Beijing if they wanted access to the market.

In 2006 Google and Yahoo were among four US firms slammed for bowing to Beijing's demands that the Internet in China be censored to prevent Chinese citizens from seeing websites the government objected to.

"Part of it is just plain nationalism, and part of it ... was considered justified censorship in trying to control a population that size," Murdoch said.

But he is banking on China's swelling middle class to make its presence felt.

"There is a real wealthy middle class appearing, and those people ... are going to start to want to have a little more say in their country."

Murdoch acknowledged that he is sometimes labeled a monopolistic "antichrist," but he faced down the issue in a question and answer session.

"Is all media in one hand bad for democracy? Absolutely," he said. "But it's not (happening) as people thought.

"We are a tiny fraction of the media landscape. There are millions of voices out there, and we certainly don't have any of that sort of monopolistic view."

Murdoch said that his products are broadcast in 30 languages and reach three quarters of the world's population.

Murdoch warned that traditional media outlets need to shed outdated technology in order to survive.

"Technology is going to continue to destroy all the old ways and old assumptions of doing business, most especially in the media," he said.

"There is no magic bullet, no one-size-fits-all solution," he said. "To stay ahead of the competition, a media company needs to diversify geographically so it can reach more people."

Keanu Reeves reigns in "Street Kings"

Cast members Keanu Reeves (L), Forest Whitaker (C) and Chris Evans attend the premiere of 'Street Kings' at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California April 3, 2008. The movie opens in the U.S. on April 11.(Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

By Kirk Honeycutt
Thu Apr 3, 11:01 PM ET
(Reuters/Hollywood Reporter)

L.A.'s mean streets get meaner than ever in "Street Kings," and little wonder considering its pedigree. The film is directed by David Ayer, who penned the dirty-cop movie "Training Day," and based on a script largely written by L.A.'s mad-dog crime novelist/moralist James Ellroy.

We are all bad people, says LAPD vice Capt. Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker). Indeed, "Kings" is filled with bad people, bad cops and one almost absurdly idealistic cop, Keanu Reeves' Detective Tom Ludlow, who nevertheless breaks rule and heads without a moment's hesitation. "Kings" covers familiar territory but does so with ruthless efficiency, intense performances and a densely packed plot designed to highlight the moral issues that most concern Ayer and Ellroy.

"Kings" has solid box office potential, especially for males of all ages. Plus, the film has one of Reeves' best performances: concentrated, grave, a little sad and more than a little demented.

New HarperCollins Unit to Try to Cut Writer Advances

April 4, 2008


HarperCollins Publishers is forming a new publishing group that will substitute profit-sharing with authors for cash advances and will try to eliminate the costly practice of allowing booksellers to return unsold copies.

In a move that surprised many industry insiders, HarperCollins announced on Thursday that Robert S. Miller, the founding publisher of Hyperion, the adult books division of the Walt Disney Company, would leave his post of 17 years to lead this new, as yet unnamed entity.

The new unit is HarperCollins’s effort to address what its executives see as some of the more vexing issues of the book industry. “The idea is, ‘Let’s take all the things that we think are wrong with this business and try to change them,’ ” said Mr. Miller, 51. “It really seemed to require a start-up from scratch because it will be very experimental.”

The new group will also release electronic books and digital audio editions of all its titles, said Jane Friedman, president and chief executive of HarperCollins, a unit of the News Corporation.
“At this moment of real volatility in the book business, when we are all recognizing things that are difficult to contend with, like growing advances and returns and that people are reading more online, we want to give them information in any format that they want.”

The new group is entering a difficult market for books generally. Citing economic uncertainty, the Borders Group announced last month that it was considering selling itself. Barnes & Noble also said it expected first-quarter results to be slightly down from the previous year.

Author advances and bookseller returns have long troubled the publishing industry. Best-selling authors can command advances so high that publishers often come away with slim profits, even for books that are significant successes. Publishers also sometimes offer high advances to untested authors in the hopes of creating new hits, but often those gambles do not pan out.

Ms. Friedman said the new group, which will initially publish just 25 titles a year, would offer “low or no advances.” Mr. Miller, who was most recently president of Hyperion, said he hoped to offer authors a 50-50 split of profits. Typically, authors earn royalties of 15 percent of profits after they have paid off their advances. Many authors never earn royalties.

Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, a literary agent, said: “I’m not cynical about it, and I’m open to ideas, but I think it’s too soon to say what the validity of it is. These words seem fine and interesting, but how does it benefit the author and how do we find our readers?”

Under standard practices, booksellers can return unsold books, saddling publishers with the high costs of shipping and pulping copies. Mr. Miller said the publishers could share with authors any savings from eliminating returns. A spokeswoman for Barnes & Noble declined to comment on HarperCollins’ plans.

Robert P. Gruen, executive vice president for merchandising and marketing at the Borders Group, said that it was premature to comment specifically on the new business, but he said, “We generally support the idea of looking at potential solutions to a return system that is not working well for the industry as a whole.”

The new group, which Ms. Friedman is calling a studio, will most likely publish hardcover editions priced at the low end of the market, around $20 a copy. She pointed to some of the titles that Mr. Miller had published while at Hyperion as models, including “The Five People You Meet in Heaven” by Mitch Albom and “The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.”

Mr. Miller’s exit from Hyperion follows the departure in January of Will Schwalbe, editor in chief, to pursue an unspecified Internet-related project. Ellen Archer, publisher of Hyperion, will take over as president from Mr. Miller.

Also on Thursday, Weinstein Books announced that Rob Weisbach left his post as president and chief executive to pursue other publishing opportunities.

At HarperCollins, Mr. Miller said he was considering offering both e-book and audio editions of the hardcovers at no extra cost to the consumer.

Curtis Brown, ICM Co-Agenting Pact Official

By Rachel Deahl -- Publishers Weekly, 4/2/2008 3:28:00PM
After Publishing News' Liz Thomson disclosed in February that Curtis Brown and ICM were close to inking a co-agenting agreement, the agencies have made the partnership official. As of April 1 the agencies, which will each retain their own clients, will jointly handle the sale of U.K. and foreign rights for ICM clients.

Four agents who work for ICM in London, under the agency's ICM Books outpost, will move into the Curtis Brown offices in Haymarket. The decision for the pact, ICM executive v-p Amanda Urban told PW, has remained largely the same since the arrangement was revealed months ago, namely to combat skyrocketing London rents and a weakened U.S. dollar abroad.

Weisbach Leaves Weinstein

By Rachel Deahl -- Publishers Weekly, 4/3/2008 8:58:00 AM

After more than two years overseeing the refigured Weinstein Books, Rob Weisbach is stepping down. Weisbach came on board in 2005 as Miramax Books was being shuttered to make way for its new incarnation as Weinstein Books. Accoording to a statement from the Weinstein Company, Weisbach is departing to "pursue other publishing opportunities." Judy Hottensen, v-p and publisher of Weinstein Books, willserve as interim-president. Weisbach was unavailable for comment but is expected to announce his plans shortly.

Under Weisbach, Weinstein Books released such titles as Plum Sykes's The Debutante Divorcee, Rick Riordan's The Sea of Monsters and Vincent Lam's debut, Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures. A rep at Weinstein Company, when asked about a potential replacement for Weisbach, said an announcement will likely be made "in the coming weeks" on the subject.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Publisher Bloomsbury sees life after Harry Potter

By Golnar Motevalli

LONDON (Reuters) - Bloomsbury Publishing Plc's 2007 profits more than doubled, boosted by the release of the final Harry Potter book, and it was confident a post-Hogwarts pipeline of new titles would keep readers buying.

"I am very confident about the post-Harry Potter period," Chief Executive Nigel Newton said in a telephone interview.

The last of the series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", came out last year, but Newton was confident a new pipeline of titles from popular authors would drive sales into 2008.
"We have a clutch of strong titles coming out this year, including ... a new Margaret Atwood novel, and the Deathly Hallows coming out in paperback," said Newton, who founded the company 21 years ago in his front room while on paternity leave.

Bloomsbury, which was also boosted by Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner", said pretax profit was 17.9 million pounds ($35.5 million) in 2007, near the top of a 15.9-18.2 million range of analysts' forecasts provided by Reuters Estimates.

Revenue doubled to 150.2 million pounds.

Profit is forecast to fall to around 10 million pounds this year and revenue to 84 million, according to Reuters Estimates.

Newton said while there were no plans yet for any new books from Potter author J.K. Rowling, he predicted the paperback release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in July -- it sold over 2.5 million copies on the first day of its hardback release -- would boost sales in the run-up to the summer holiday period.

Shares in Bloomsbury were unchanged at 165 pence by 4:30 a.m. EDT, valuing the company at around 114 million pounds.


Bloomsbury, which is expanding into the digitized book market, announced a deal with Microsoft to publish its back catalogue of titles online, making a limited selection free for readers later in the year.

The financial details of the deal were not disclosed.

"We've entered into a partnership with Microsoft to digitize our entire list and make controlled amounts of it available on the Internet for free," Newton said.

U.S. revenues fell about 10 percent in 2007 on weak adult books sales, but Newton was confident that overall the company would be resistant to any economic slowdown in 2008.

"Books have historically been resilient during downturns ... data shows sales were up 7.2 percent in the 10 weeks to March 3, you can draw your own conclusions from that," Newton said.
"The combination of cost savings, good current trading and acquisitions provides scope to raise forecasts as we progress through the year," analysts at Numis Securities said in a note, retaining their "add" rating on the stock.

Newton said Bloomsbury was always interested in opportunities to acquire specialist publishers in the United States and the UK, but did not name any target companies.

(Editing by Mike Elliot, Paul Bolding)

Riordan Talks Up Clues in Bologna

By Diane Roback -- Publishers Weekly, 4/2/2008 5:20:00 AM

Riordan gives news of Percy Jackson and more.One of the busiest attendees at this year’s Bologna has been bestselling author Rick Riordan, who was at the fair to talk about several of his forthcoming projects. Scholastic brought him to Italy to introduce his The 39 Clues series, a multi-platform middle-grade adventure series that incorporates books, an online game, collectible cards and $100,000 in prize money. Scholastic has world rights to the series, which launches on September 9, and here at Bologna they presented the 39 Clues concept to international publishers, with the aim of selling it in the non-English speaking world. “Response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Linda Biagi, director of international rights. She’s not signing up publishers at the fair, but will go home and continue conversations with the publishers who expressed interest. The appeal for the series is wide, Biagi said, because “it reaches kids in all the ways they live now.”

Riordan isn’t writing the entire series; Scholastic hired him to oversee the story arc, and to write the first volume, Maze of Bones. The rest of the books will be written by other writers. Riordan’s agent, Nancy Gallt of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency, believes Riordan was the perfect person for the project because “he's a gamer himself. And his son is a reluctant reader. He wanted to get the kids who are into gaming to get into reading. It’s a double obsession perfectly satisfied.”

Also in Bologna, Hyperion held a press conference to reveal the first printing for the fourth Percy Jackson book, The Battle of the Labyrinth, which pubs on May 6—one million copies. (“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined such a thing,” Riordan told PW.) Hyperion also announced more projects with Riordan: a new fantasy adventure series as well as two books about Camp Half Blood, “which will continue our relationship well into the future,” said Jonathan Yaged, v-p and U.S. publisher of the Disney Book Group.

Explaining his busy writing schedule, Riordan said that his work on The 39 Clues has “pretty much wrapped up” by now, and he is currently finishing Book 5 of the Percy Jackson series, due out in 2009. “The story that began with The Lightning Thief ends with Book 5,” he said. “But much of the story doesn’t take place at Camp Half Blood, and kids keep asking me what happened at the camp. So I’m developing another strand of the story.”

In 2010 Hyperion will release the first volume in Riordan’s new fantasy series. Though he didn’t want to give away plot details yet, he said the series was “giving me the chance to try something different, to explore an idea that’s been tugging at me for a while.” After that comes the first Camp Half Blood book, in 2011. Though his schedule is tight, Riordan said that it’s “critical” to him to leave time for school visits as well. “Rick is extremely hard-working,” Gallt said. “There’s a huge commitment to getting books into the hands of kids.”